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Media say US sent long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine in March

Wednesday, 24 April 2024, 20:23
Media say US sent long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine in March
Photo: Getty Images

The US secretly sent Ukraine long-range ATACMS missiles, which Ukraine has deployed to attack Russian targets, in the past few weeks – i.e. prior to additional funding for Ukraine being approved by Congress.

Source: Reuters and AP, citing an anonymous US official

Details: Reuters and AP have reported that ATACMS were included in a US$300 million military aid package for Ukraine that US President Joe Biden approved in March 2024. AP added separately that it was a "significant number" of ATACMS, but did not specify the precise quantity.


Ukraine first used these missiles on the morning of 17 April to strike a Russian airfield in occupied Crimea, some 165 km away from the front line in Ukraine, the source said. It is also claimed that ATACMS were utilised in an attack on occupied Berdiansk, Zaporizhzhia Oblast (where explosions were reported on 15 April). 

The Pentagon was initially reluctant to send ATACMS to Ukraine due to fears that this would negatively impact the combat-readiness of US forces or that Ukraine would deploy the missiles to strike targets on Russian territory.

The White House changed its mind after Russia deployed ballistic missiles supplied by North Korea to attack Ukrainian critical infrastructure facilities.

Joe Biden ultimately made the final decision during a national security meeting in mid-February. According to Reuters, the attendees – National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Brown – were unanimously in favour of sending Ukraine ATACMS.

Earlier this week, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that his most recent phone call with Joe Biden resulted in agreements for the supply of long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine.

American media had reported that ATACMS might be included in Ukraine's next package of US military aid, likely worth US$1 billion.

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